GALLERY: The EDL march in Stevenage and announce their return for next month
- Credit: Archant
The English Defence League (EDL) marched in Stevenage today (Saturday) and announced their intention to return “in six weeks”.
About 500 people are believed to have turned out for two separate marches in the town – one organised by the EDL and a countermarch arranged by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The far-right EDL say the demonstration was a response to an ongoing under-age sex trafficking court case in the town.
Rolling road blocks were in place along Stevenage High Street from 1.30pm to accommodate the EDL. The TUC march also caused some disruption to traffic on St George’s Way before the crowd moved to the car park across from Southgate House.
EDL speaker Mark Robinson made a speech in the town centre. He said: “We are witnessing an epidemic in this country with thousands of young victims. Nothing has been done because of ‘cultural sensitivity’.
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“You people here today will be vilified and called fascists for disagreeing with a so-called ‘religion of peace’.
“I want David Cameron to know: we don’t your wars, we don’t want any part in your EU, and we don’t want Islam in the UK.”
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He finished his speech by announcing that the group plans to return to Stevenage in July.
Members of the crowd cheered when the EDL’s second speaker, Alan Felix, claimed Nazism and Islamism were “two sides of the same coin”.
South EDL spokesman Jason Scott – known as ‘The Viking – believes the group’s movements were a reasonable response to “militant Islam”. He said: “We don’t want racism in the EDL. We want people to hear what we have to say. My own stepfather is both a Muslim and a member of the EDL because he is an educated man.
“I can see why these marches may seem a bit intimidating from the outside but we’re friendly people, really.”
Resident Neil Winn, of Douglas Drive, joined the TUC countermarch. He said: “I believe the EDL has no place in Stevenage and I am worried about the legacy it will leave behind in our town.
“Stevenage is a multi-cultural and inclusive community. We do not need troublemakers coming here and stirring things up – it will benefit no-one.”
Herts Police Superintendent Matthew Nicholls said: “This was a challenging operation, but we liaised with the organisers of both protest groups and worked closely with Stevenage Borough Council and partner agencies to ensure the event passed off peacefully and with the minimum of disruption.
“We are extremely grateful to the people of Stevenage for their patience and understanding during the event.”
The EDL have yet to officially arrange their return.
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